A big part of this endeavor begins with vision. I have never really been a “visionary”, at least by my own idea of what a visionary actually is, but I have had visions. Many. Most of them have come to nothing, but the one that is currently boiling within me has a different tone to it. It just might have some legs. It started months ago, during the summer, as an evangelist, Todd White, came to Joplin, Missouri to hold his “School of Power and Love”. My wife and I decided that we were going to go on the last night. I won’t go into the details of what transpired that night, but I will say that the Holy Spirit revealed Himself to be even more real than I could ever have imagined. Early the next morning when I finally fell asleep, I had a dream. Let me stop here and say that I believe that dreams are very close to the heart of God. I recently read a book by Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion, that is talks explicitly about the power in chasing God-given dreams.
But I had a dream. In this dream, I saw churches in my area no longer bound within the walls of denominationalism. I could clearly see worship teams from various churches coming together to create heavenly sounds. I could see Pastors preaching in pulpits, and on stages, that were not in their home church. I “watched” as people moved between churches at the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do what was needed in that body before moving on to their next mission, with no one gossiping about what happened, or no scandal. I saw people outside of the church astounded at the brotherhood and fellowship of the church, and I watched as a fire lit became a flame expanded. It was as if a very sizeable stone had been dropped into the waters we inhabit, and the ripples vibrated violently outward, gaining in strength rather than fading as they do naturally.
“That day about 3000 took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around them was in awe- all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed the daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful as they praised God. People, in general, liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” Acts 2: 41-47 (emphasis mine)
Fast forward to a couple of nights ago. While I was getting ready for bed, I was scrolling through Instagram. I had received a follow request from a user named Unity in the Community, and as I looked closer, it was a church, pushing for unity in the churches in that area. My mind flashed back to that night a few months ago, when the dream above came to me. This time, I could very clearly see churches in our area, and all over the world. We put aside differences. I watched as churches opened dialogues about how to meet the needs of the community together. I saw churches seeing the need in coming together to worship and pray. I saw people from a variety of denominations gathering for the sole purpose of the cause of Christ. I saw churches working together to serve the community effectively.
My dreams are not original. In our area right now, I see churches coming together to do these very things. I see groups of believers doing community the way God desires it. I see people coming together to discuss the word of God in depth but what God impressed upon me through the verse above that I posted was an image of the human body.
“Just as the body, through one, has many parts, but all of its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12)
The church today is striving against itself. We are a body pulling in different directions. Some churches practice isolationism. Some churches literally give themselves away. Others are caught in the middle, trying both extremes and none at all. Others still sit on the sidelines, wanting to jump in, but never finding a way to do it.
As the body of Christ, believers all have areas in which they excel. As bodies of believers, Church buildings have areas in which they excel.
What if we pooled our knowledge, best practices, media, music, etc in a way that furthered the Kingdom in our areas? Can you imagine a time where every church is preaching on the same topic, from different perspectives? Can you imagine what would happen if people “liked what they saw” in the church and were drawn to Christ as a result? Can you imagine the reach? The results?
Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I feel a pull to the Church of Joplin. This doesn’t require me to leave the church God has planted me in, or to quit doing what God has given me a passion for in my local congregation. Rather, it requires me to reach outside of my church and spend time in community with those I have not met yet, who have this same dream and vision for our area.
I don’t yet know how to accomplish this, but the desire for it has awakened something new inside of me. I trust that God will provide the direction and more awakenings like my own. When the Church becomes a true community, we will see the change that we so crave, because we have committed ourselves in Christ to BE the change that HE created us to be.
We are the dreams God had so very long ago, to accomplish the dreams He continues to have to this very present day, so that His dreams for the future can continue to be unlocked in those yet to come.
It’s time to wake up!